November is a time for us to honor and appreciate the 40 million + people in the U.S. caring for aging parents, ill spouses, or loved ones with disabilities who remain at home. Caregivers are the unsung heroes, juggling jobs, home life, and families. Rarely taking time to care for themselves in the process.
There are many different forms of Caregivers. Parents, siblings, other family members, friends… but what they all have in common is that they understand the necessity of the role, charging ahead ready to take on whatever they may come up against. Often, Caregivers deplete every ounce of their energy for the benefit of others.
As you can imagine, this is a heavy load to carry. But there is an answer. It’s called the Caregivers Trust. A Caregivers Trust is a trust funded for the benefit of the Caregiver and can be used for a number of circumstances.
I was recently speaking to a group of parents with special needs children. During the talk, a couple mentioned that they were having a hard time finding a successor caregiver for their son because of the amount of care he required. Their other children had jobs and families of their own and they didn’t know how they would be able to make it work. After explaining to them how the Caregivers Trust could be a great tool, you could actually see them become more relaxed knowing that there was a solution to their concerns.
Many times, when somebody becomes a successor Caregiver, their world changes. They may have to reduce their hours at work, or quit working all together, adding financial stress to their lives. The question becomes, can a tired or financially tapped successor caregiver really give the quality of care, time, love, and attention that you would want for your child? The trust can help by relieving this financial stress. For instance, the Trust could provide for things like respite care and additional expenses that may come up, amongst other things.
A Caregiver Trust can also help with legal issues. For example, there was a woman who hurt her back while caring for her grandchild with special needs and prescribed strong pain medication. A few days later, while driving home from the bank after helping to resolve an issue with her grandchild’s paycheck, she was pulled over. The officer found an unusually large amount of cash on her along with the prescription. She was arrested on the spot for “Intent to Sell”. Fortunately, the Caregiver Trust helped her pay for a Lawyer and all charges against her were dismissed.
The Caregiver Trust can also help with extensive home modifications that may need to be done. Someone could be eager to care for a loved one, but just not be able to afford the type of home necessary for that person. For example, when I was 6 years old, a family friend came to live with us. He had Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and while his parents could have continued to take care of him, he wanted a little bit of independence from his childhood home. Our home at the time, was not accessible for wheelchairs, so my parents expanded a bathroom and installed ramps. Fortunately, my parents were able to afford these modifications, so I was able to spend my childhood and young adulthood with one of the best people I will ever know.
Over the years, my parents adopted four little girls with Down Syndrome. They knew that between me and my 12 (yes 12!) siblings, they would be well taken care of. Recently, my mom told me “I expect that the girls will be an emotional burden to you, but I never want them to be a financial burden to you.” I’ll take on that emotional burden any day. The Caregiver Trust will help me so that I will be able to work less and spend more time with them when that time comes.
Tools, such as the Caregiver’s Trust, can be used to help the ones who take on the most. It is important that we remind them to stay rested, go to the doctor, get exercise, go on vacation! A physically stressed, emotionally stressed, and financially stressed Caregiver may not be the ideal Caregiver for your loved one. So, this month, let us recognize those who have dedicated their lives to a great cause. Thank you for all you do!
Content in this material is for general information and is not intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice. Special Needs Advanced Planning Specialists and LPL Financial do not provide legal advice or services.